International Falafel Challenge

For a number of years, I have been undertaking an international falafel survey, in search of the perfect falafel.  Considering I have never been to either Israel or the Lebanon – considered as the natural home of falafel, you might consider my sample somewhat unrepresentative.  If you know of great falafel, list them in the comments box!

source: The Guardian/Melba Photo Agency/Alamy

In my opinion, the perfect falafel should be crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  Microwaved falafel just don’t cut it – the crispiness is only achievable by deep frying them. Falafel should be subtly spiced – otherwise they closely resemble deep-fried dust balls.  Not even the most dedicated vegetarian willingly eats dust.

The perfect accompaniment to falafel is warm flatbread and humus and a bit of salad.  Humus and falafel are both made from chickpeas, yet completely different in texture, consistency and taste.  Heston Blumethal gets paid a lot of money to make strange textures out of simple ingredients, while your local Middle Eastern Take Away has been at it for years!

My favourite falafel of all time are sold at El Baraka, a Moroccan restaurant in Kreuzberg, Berlin.  Although falafel are not exactly Moroccan, these ones are fluffy bundles of cinnamon-spiced joy.  Definitely the winners in the international survey so far! I hope El Baraka is still at Lausitzer Platz 6, although I see it hasn’t been reviewed on Trip Advisor for a while….

Now I am back in Edinburgh, my favourites so far are at Palmyra at 22 Nicholson Street.  The falafel are fluffy, the bread is crispy toasted, and the mint yoghurt dressing zings through – even when you also have chilli sauce 😉 And the location is ideal for a quick bite on route to a show at the Pleasance or the Festival Theatre. 

Other contenders in my international survey are:

–          Habibi chain, various locations, Berlin
–          Mont Liban, 30 rue de Livorne, Brussels (I prefer the take away bit to the posh restaurant)

I’m looking forward to hearing about your falafel favourites.  Please post them below!

© Lynn Sheppard

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8 Responses to International Falafel Challenge

  1. yassine100 says:

    First time i tried it it was in Amman , there was local restaurant called “Jibri ” in Maca street ,the price also was good … I love it so much 🙂

  2. Rosie says:

    Gaby’s Deli, Charring Cross Rd, London.I’m pretty sure it’s been rescued from threatened closure and having its premises given to Strada or some other chain.
    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/sos-save-our-shops/article-23991411-worth-its-salt-beef-stars-fight-to-save-gabys-deli.do

  3. Gary says:

    I’m a Falafel addict and have tried them all in London. ChikP gets my vote. They’ to be found a various markets around the capital.

    • mikanqueen says:

      A falafel in bread with salad is a complete meal! If you are ever in Edinburgh, you should try Pomegranate. It’s a new Kurdish place in the East End serving mezze as well as larger dishes. Their falafel is pretty damn good and they serve their mezze with a kind of bubbly naan bread, so you can construct your own!

  4. Gary says:

    Also must add that fluffy soft (Israeli/Palestinian) round pitta used as a pocket is far better than the Lebanese/Syrian/Palestinian flat bread. The flat bread is flavorless, chewy and doesn’t retain heat. Be mindful though that if you chose the thicker, softer round pitta (not the stuff you find in Middle Eastern shops mind) make sure they layer up in the right way so to get a bit of everything in every bite.

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